A Really Small World: Legionnaires Disease and Pontiac Fever

Legionella pneumophilaPontiac fever isn’t a promo for vintage cars; it’s an actual condition. Named after Michigan Pontiac who was the first known case of the non-fatal respiratory disease in 1968, this strain was caused by a bacteria genus called legionella that causes a mild respiratory infection that mimics the flu.

The strain didn’t get much attention since patients would recover from the symptoms in two to ten days even without treatment. It started causing major concern, however, when it caused an outbreak of a potentially fatal form of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease in Philadelphia in 1976.

Legionella doesn’t transfer on contact, given that bacteria usually thrives in stagnant water. Human exposure happens because of the increased use of cooling towers, spas, and central air conditioning systems. Not to say that cooling towers and air conditioners should be scrapped; all you need is the proper awareness and any risk that may be present can be minimised.

Assess the Danger

Like dealing with any disease, the first step is recognising its behaviour; where it comes from, what the symptoms are, and how it transfers. These are just some of the basic questions you need to ask if you want to assess the risk of exposure to Legionella, based on your location and current lifestyle. There’s no reason to panic if you don’t have regular access or are not exposed to the bacterial sources.

Contact the Experts

Legionella is still under study; scientists estimate that most cases of Pontiac fever and Legionnaires’ disease are underdiagnosed or aren’t reported at all. This holds especially true in developing countries where the symptoms could easily be mistaken as simple flu or pneumonia. Contact any known legionella control services to learn more about the bacteria and the disease.

Get Tested

The workplace is the most common breeding ground for legionella because of centralised air conditioning systems coupled with prolonged exposure because of work hours. The best way to get peace of mind is to have your systems tested for the bacteria. Once a bacterium is detected, it is just a simple matter of exterminating them before they even become a problem.

It’s amazing how something small and simple of knowing something and acting in it can affect the health and well-being of many people. Be a catalyst for good in your community, be informed and get things done before they become too big to handle.